Jan 05, 2015

Farm Bill Program Authorizations

Congress acted on several Farm Bill-related programs in the appropriation bill passed recently. Here’s a brief summary, courtesy of American Farmland Trust:

Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP)

No funding cap, so the full $425 million in “mandatory” funding is available.  However, sequestration takes away $31 million, leaving $394 million for NRCS to use for conservation work.  Of the $394 million, 7 percent, or $27.6 million, is allocated for Rural Conservation Partnership Program, leaving $366.4 million to be used for both ALE and WRE.  We do not yet know the split between ALE and WRE for FY 2015. 

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

The farm bill provided $1.6 billion in mandatory funding for EQIP, but appropriators capped it (“CHIMPed it”) at $1.347 billion.  The chimp resulted in a funding level that is essentially at what the sequestration level would result in, so EQIP does not lose anything to sequestration (total of $210,000 out of $1.347 billion is essentially nothing).  Significantly, EQIP will contribute $94 million to RCPP funding, so a net of $1.253 is available for regular EQIP work.

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

CSP is authorized by acres, and includes not only new contracts, but also funding for prior enrolled contracts, so this is a little more complex. The Farm Bill authorized enrolling 10 million acres per year.  The appropriation bill capped CSP enrollment for FY 2015 at 7.741 million acres.  A little over half a million acres (about $9.7 million in dollars) are likely to be available for RCPP projects.  Roughly 7 million acres should be available for enrollment under the regular CSP program.  These numbers assume that the CHIMP for CSP covers the amount (about $105 million) that would have been cut due to sequestration.